While not much has happened on these particular blocks, recent years have seen seismic changes in the surrounding area. With towering, overwhelming examples of starchitecture shooting up in all directions, the smaller, more humble buildings begin to feel a bit anemic and out-of-place.
One of more noticeable examples is the new Cooper Union building about two blocks south of here. I happen to be a fan of its sheer insanity, though there are many who probably think I'm crazy. Aesthetics aside, as a designer I like it whenever a bold step like this is given a chance (in any medium). With so many different people having a hand in a massive project like this, it's a miracle the building didn't get dumbed down the the "safe" point - the point at which nearly everyone would find it inoffensive. How boring that would be.